A Muslim taxi driver was strangled by his passenger while he was behind the wheel in a terrifying attack which left the victim fearing for his life.
The cabbie who doesn’t want to be named for personal safety said: “I thought he was going to kill me.”
The father-of-two, picked up four passengers at a taxi rank in Worcester and was attacked as he drove towards Pershore. The passenger who was white a male sitting directly behind him leant over and gripped him around the neck, choking him until he blacked out. It left the driver, 39, who lives in Worcester, with a damaged windpipe and unable to speak properly.
The group, three men and one woman, paid their fare in full before the attack at about 3.45am on Tuesday 30 July.
The driver said: “I’ve been a driver for nine years and nothing like this has happened before. The guy behind me sat forward and put both his hands around my neck. I was still driving at the time and I felt helpless. The man carried on squeezing my neck tighter, I could hardly breathe.”
He pulled the car over on the B4084, Worcester Road, near the junction for Station Road, saying the other passengers were “screaming” at the attacker to loosen his grip as he blacked out.
The cabbie said: “He probably held me for two minutes – I really felt he was going to kill me. If he had held my neck for a further 10 seconds I really believe he would have killed me with the amount of force he was using.”
As he came around, the gang were stood nearby and the woman approached him to ask if he was okay and apologised. The driver went to Worcestershire Royal Hospital and is now recovering from a damaged windpipe at home.
A colleague of the victim who wishes to remain anonymous said to 5Pillarz: “There is no mention in the local press stressing that the attacker was a soldier, which the driver did point out in his statement to the police. The female who asked him if he was okay gave it away when she apologised.
“Protecting ‘our heroes’ is a priority I guess. I’ve had first hand experience of that kind of abuse as I’ve worked as a cabbie in the army barrack town of Hereford. Once these soldiers have had a few drinks their true colours show.”
The customers were all white and in their 20s. One man was 5ft 10ins tall, of medium build, with short dark hair, clean shaven, and wearing a T-shirt and jeans. The other two men were both of medium build. One had short hair and the other thick hair on top.
Anyone with information can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
Muhammed Hussain from Preston, who had been in the taxi trade for 10 years was punched, spat at on his face and his car damaged last year when he asked for his fare of £4.50 from a group of two white males and a female.
His attackers threatened to kill him, called him a “Paki” and said they’d “chop his beard off”. The perpetrators were charged with racially aggravated assault and criminal damage, and imprisoned for two years.
Mr Hussain said to 5 Pillarz: “I was attacked for being visibly Muslim. I have been a taxi driver for over 10 years, and attacks like this have increased. If a Muslim can’t wear a mosque hat or keep a beard out of fear of being attacked whilst working, what kind of life is this?”
Mohammed Afzal, 36, says he feared for his life after being assaulted by three white men in a Glasgow pub, who racially abused him.
Mr Afzal said the police took 41 days to respond after he initially reported the crime and kept asking him why he thought the attack was “racist.”
The Scottish Ethnic Private Hire Welfare Association (SEPHWA) claimed police do not do enough to protect drivers from racist abuse and harassment in Scotland’s largest city.
The Department for Transport’s National Taxi and Private Hire Statistics 2011 recorded 299,200 taxi drivers in Britain. And after a comparison with the National Census statistics for 2011, the total number of Muslim taxi drivers in Britain was estimated at 85,485.
One in seven are of Pakistani ethnicity, one in eight are of Bangladeshi ethnicity and two in seven cab drivers in the UK are Muslim. The majority of Muslim taxi drivers are located in London, West Yorkshire, the Midlands and the South East.